Cover of Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy
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Displaying: 1-13 of 13 documents


1. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Rose Cherubin

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The goddess’s speech in Parmenides’s fragments is framed by the opinions of mortals in at least two ways. First, the journey of the proem starts in the world described by mortals’ opinions, and the second part of the goddess’s speech explores those opinions. Second, throughout her speech, the goddess invokes features of the world according to mortals’ opinions—negation, coming-to-be, destruction—even when she is arguing for a road of inquiry that excludes those features. Further, we study the fragments by means of the definitions and claims regarding what-is that we use to function and communicate in our mortal lives. This paper proposes to approach the fragments with an awareness of this framing. A result is that the logical conclusion of accepting mortals’ opinions is that mortals’ opinions are flawed; and that result is based on flawed opinions. The goddess’s account thus presents something like a Liar Paradox.
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2. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Michael M. Shaw

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This paper examines parataxis and ring composition in Anaxagoras Fragment B4a, arguing that this ostensibly prose philosopher employs these poetic techniques to capture his thought. Comparing the fragment with Homeric similes and his description of Achilles’s Shield from Ililad XVIII reveals an immanent poetics within the Anaxagorean text. Lying between two instances of "πολλά τε καὶ παντοῖα" (many things of all kinds) most of fragment constitutes a single sentence. Such ring composition advises that no part of the paratactic clause should be read independently from any other. This supports reading the discussion of "seeds" (σπέρματα) and "compacted" (συμπαγῆναι) human beings in B4a as yielding a conception of infinitely proliferating microcosmic worlds each undergoing its own separation within a single cosmos.
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3. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Andy German

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Can the Euthydemus illuminate the philosophical significance of sophistry? In answering this question, I ask why the most direct and sustained confrontations between Socrates and the two brothers should all center on time and the soul. The Euthydemus, I argue, is a not primarily a polemic against eristic manipulation of language, but a diagnosis of the soul’s ambiguous unity. It shows that sophistic speech emerges from the soul’s way of relating to its own temporal character and to logos. Stated differently, a central theme of this dialogue is one which, we are repeatedly told, the Greeks had not yet thematized--the nature of interiority.
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4. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Brian Marrin

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The Clitophon has posed a riddle to its readers: Why does Socrates not respond to the criticisms levelled against him? A careful reading of the dialogue shows that Clitophon’s criticism of Socrates already contains its own rebuttal. It is not, as many have suggested, certain beliefs of Clitophon’s that make a Socratic response impossible. Rather, Socrates’s silence is itself the response, intended to force Clitophon to turn back to what has already been said. It is Clitophon’ lack of self-knowledge, or better his self-oblivion, his failure to see his own soul as implicated in the logos, that propels him always to seek out what’s next in the logos without any reflection on what has already been said.
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5. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
John Sallis

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This interpretation directed at certain passages in Plato’s Theaetetus explicates the close relation that the dialogue establishes between memory, thought, and speech. It shows that all of these means contribute to the soul’s capacity to stretch beyond mere perceptions. The interpretation also shows that comedic elements play a major role in the dialogue, most notably, in the well-known passage that purportedly explains knowledge and memory by means of the image of birds flying about in an aviary. Through close examination of the relevant passages, the interpretation shows that the Theaetetus is not aporetic but rather achieves a positive advance that prepares the way for the Sophist.
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6. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
I-Kai Jeng

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“Late” Platonic dialogues are usually characterized as proposing a “scientific” understanding of philosophy, where “neutrality” is seen favorably, and being concerned with the honor of things and/or their utility for humans is considered an attitude that should be overcome through dialectical training. One dialogue that speaks strongly in favor of this reading is the Sophist, in which the stance of neutrality is explicitly endorsed in 227b-c. This paper will propose a reading of the Sophist showing that this common view of late Plato is misleading. It will argue for three things. First, 227b-c, when contextually understood, actually shows the limitation of being neutral. Second, that limitation compels the interlocutors in the rest of the conversation to pursue a non-neutral way of philosophizing about the sophist, contrary to the advice put forward in 227b-c. Finally, the non-neutral definition of the sophist that concludes the dialogue does not signal Plato’s preference for a non-neutral conception of philosophical knowledge either. A careful consideration of the dramatic ending suggests that he has reservations about it no less than he does about a neutral conception. The fact that both these conceptions had limitations perhaps explains why Plato, even in his late years, did not turn to the treatise format but remained within the dialogue: only in this form is it possible to retain both in philosophical logos.
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7. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Travis Holloway

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This paper explores a type of poetry, music, and theater that is said to be responsible for the birth of participatory democracy. While Aristotle and Nietzsche briefly mention a similar genealogy of democracy in their work, Book III of Plato’s Laws archives a remarkable history of how participatory democracy emerged in Athens’s theater. After connecting Plato's account to a participatory style of music and poetry that is associated initially with the term polyphōnia, I consider a line of philosophical commentary on this type of music from Plato to Rousseau to Derrida. For these philosophers, I claim, polyphōnia disrupts the political hierarchy of those with and those with bare voices and encourages equal participation. If the phenomenon of polyphōnia is indeed behind Plato’s historical account of democracy in the Laws, then it may tell us how democracy was first performed in the theater and how it was initially critiqued by philosophers.
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8. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Christopher Cohoon

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According to Aristotle’s reply to what I call the divine wish aporia (NE VIII.7 1159a5–12), perfect friendship entails wishing many great goods for one’s friend, but precludes wishing that one’s friend become a god—“the greatest of goods”—for the realization of this wish would destroy the friendship. Counter both to this reply and to the slim body of existing commentary, which appeals to the external criterion of equalizable reciprocation, I demonstrate how the perspective internal to the virtuous activity of perfect friendship affords properly Aristotelian grounds for retaining the divine wish as its constitutive limit. While the practicable scope of perfect friendship remains circumscribed within human limits, its characteristic wishing at once reaches beyond the human—and the friendship.
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9. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Jacob Abolafia

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Aristotle is often thought of as one of the fathers of essentialism in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s argument for the essence of human beings is, however, much more flexible than this prejudice might suggest. In the passage about the “human function” at Nichomachean Ethics 1.7, Aristotle gives an account of the particular “function” (or “achievement,” ergon) of human beings that does not ask very much of the modern reader—only that she be prepared to analyze human beings as a logical category according to certain rules. While this may trouble the naturalistic reductionist or the post-humanist thinker, it is not clear that Aristotle’s request is unreasonable, especially given what the function argument goes on to offer. It places normative thinking in the constellation of type-property-activity, a narrowing of the search for the human good, but not an overly constrictive one. The second, substantive stage of the argument gives a more narrow interpretation of what the unique property and its corresponding activity are in the case of humans—but even here Aristotle’s apparently “thick” conclusions about the ultimate human good ultimately leave more room for a pluralistic disagreement about ends than might be expected.
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10. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Sean D. Kirkland

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In this paper, I begin with the most basic tenet in Aristotelian metaphysics, namely that ousia or ‘substance’ is ontologically prior to the nine other categories of being, including the pros ti, the condition of being literally ‘toward something’ or what is sometimes called 'relation' or ‘relationality.’ Aristotle repeats this frequently throughout his works and it is, I take it, manifest. However, in the Politics, so I argue here, Aristotle’s dialectical study of common appearances leads him to describe ‘human being’ in a way that runs contrary to this. That is, insofar as the human being is the zoon politikon or ‘political animal,’ it seems to be constituted as the being it is precisely by way of its relatedness to other human beings in the polis. I then try to determine the moment of ‘birth’ for this essentially relational being, and find that it may not be the emergence of the human from the womb, but rather, at least according to this interpretation of the Politics, the moment when we enter into the logos together with others in posing, discussing, debating, and re-posing the abidingly open question of the human Good.
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11. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Eli Diamond

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This paper explores Sean Kirkland’s thesis that relation is the fundamental concept in Aristotelian political philosophy. While substance is prior to relation in Aristotle’s metaphysics, Kirkland argues that since the human exists only in the context of a city which is defined by the essential diversity of views on the human good, relation precedes substantial unity in politics. I argue that the priority of the substantial unity of the city should not be seen to threaten the importance of political relations. Already in his theoretical ontology, Aristotle sees relation as absolutely essential and integral to the identity and existence of any mortal individual. Because of the essentially dynamic and relational activity of any mortal substance, the city as political substance must include and preserve deep diversity and difference within itself. The priority of the substantial over the relational, which makes possible the constitutive power of relations in the life of substances, is as operative in politics as it is in metaphysics.
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12. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Ömer Aygün

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In this paper, we offer an overview of Aristotle’s account for his belief that honeybees reproduce without copulation. Following this, we draw the three following implications: First, that Aristotle’s position on this question is quite unconventional, and undercuts many traditional and “Aristotelian” hierarchies; secondly, that the method that requires him to hold this unconventional position is largely dialectical; and finally, that the lineage behind this method is Socratic. In this sense, Aristotle’s biological work may be seen as taking up where young Socrates left off according to his autobiographical remark in Plato’s Phaedo 95E-99E.
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13. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Aaron Shenkman

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Quietly nestled in Catullus’s early love poems, there are two grammatical ambiguities that, although provoking heated grammatical discussion in the commentary tradition, have been completely overlooked by more literary and theoretical writers. In these brief moments, the distinction between man and women, lover and loved, vir and irrumatus, becomes problematized, to say the least. Moving through and unpacking the form of Roman masculinity that is so prevalent in Catullus’s poetry, this paper looks to ultimately understand the place of these ambiguities in our collection of Catullus’ work. In so doing, it explores and uncovers a fundamental engagement with the gender-political situation in Rome, and ultimately attempts to show how Catullus not only bests his male counterparts through his poetry, but also deconstructs the very idea of what it is to be a vir in the first place.
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